BAIL REFORM IN AMERICA by Wayne H. Thomas

BAIL REFORM IN AMERICA

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Bail reform is one of the few areas of the overburdened criminal justice system in which substantive, measurable changes have occurred since 1961 when the Manhattan Bail Project was formed to help indigent defendants overcome the ""unfairness and irrationality of the money bail system."" Thomas assesses the various forms of ""nonfinancial"" pretrial release from simple O.R. (own recognizance) to the more restrictive conditional and custodial release programs. The key piece of legislation thus far is the Federal Bail Reform Act of 1966, put together by the Ervin subcommittee on constitutional rights, under which ""the presumption was changed from no O.R. to O.R."" Thomas, who would like to see pretrial release become as automatic and non-restrictive as possible, complains that too many ""conditions"" for high-risk defendants become self-defeating. Surveying the patchwork of state laws, he points to programs in Philadelphia, Des Moines, and Oregon where ""police citation"" and ""deposit bail"" (which puts bondsmen out of business) have been introduced with success. On the whole, public fears of defendants skipping out haven't materialized and a consensus seems to be forming that both ""cost-effectiveness"" (it unclogs detention centers) and simple justice point toward increased use of moneyless alternatives. The question of ""preventive detention"" for persons deemed especially ""dangerous"" is a thorny one; Thomas presents both sides, though in general he leans toward opposition to what Sam Ervin terms a ""tyrannical practice."" Primarily for lawyers and would-be lawyers, but lucid and accessible to concerned laymen.

Pub Date: Jan. 20th, 1976
Publisher: Univ. of California Press